'Absurd': Israeli A-G Says Netanyahu's Own Court Case Prevents His Involvement in Judicial Reform
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Critics described as "absurd" a letter Thursday from Israel's Attorney-General Gali Barharav-Miara to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he can't be involved in his government's judicial reform legislation because of his own ongoing corruption trials. She said she wanted to avoid conflict of interest problems.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the sponsor of the judicial reforms, suggested the attorney-general's action was highly hypocritical, especially since the judicial reform legislation involves her position.
"It seems that 'conflict of interest' is a very strange beast," Levin mused in a quote published in Israel National News. "Publicly elected officials aren't allowed to talk about their planned judicial reforms, but the attorney-general and her team can do whatever they like in an attempt to thwart those reforms, ones which relate directly to the sphere of their authority."
The government's Coalition Chairman Ophir Katz (Likud) called the decision "absolutely absurd, aside from being an attempt to silence people. Prime Minister Netanyahu headed into the elections with all these issues being put before the general public, including judicial reform, and we received a clear mandate from the public to implement these reforms."
Even some critics of the judicial reform proposal expressed hesitation about keeping the prime minister out of the discussion, and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir suggested the effort might even speed up action on reform legislation.
"Threats are not the way to change policies and the government will not be intimidated," Ben-Gvir said. "If they want discourse, then that is legitimate; however, they have to understand that threats such as these only make the government more determined to legislate the reforms as swiftly as possible."
Netanyahu filed a response to Israel's High Court of Justice Thursday, describing the AG's position as "unacceptable" and asking for two weeks to respond more fully.
Meanwhile, the Israeli daily Haaretz said security authorities elevated the threat level for Baharav-Miara to the highest category, strengthening her security detail.
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